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As the critical late-season losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers in two of the past three years attests, the Ravens need to add players that can help them defeat their AFC North opponents.
So as the Ravens enter this weekend’s NFL Draft, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked if he hopes to select rookies that will keep his team competitive in the division, especially later in the season.
“I think we’d better,” Harbaugh said last week in a pre-draft press conference. “We play those teams twice a year every single year.
“Obviously, we have a heated rivalry with all of those teams – especially Pittsburgh right now – because two of the last three years it has come down to those kind of tiebreakers at the end of the year and stuff like that – home field advantage.”
Last year offers a solid example of the importance of the draft to the division, which includes the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.
In Week 13, the Ravens dropped a needed home matchup to Pittsburgh, with former first-round draft pick Ben Roethlisberger finding undrafted free agent Isaac Redman for a game-winning touchdown with two minutes, fifty-one seconds remaining.
Both teams finished the season 12-4, but the Ravens fell short on the tiebreaker and the Steelers won the AFC North.
“We’ve got to find a way to beat the teams we play the most,” Harbaugh continued. “You want to draft towards beating the teams at the top of the conference every year because the goal is to get to the Super Bowl and win the Super Bowl.”
“If there is someone that we think can impact our football team and help us beat Pittsburgh, get to the AFC Championship game and win a Super Bowl, we’ll draft him,” said Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
Currently, the Ravens have nine draft picks, beginning with the 26th-overall, while Pittsburgh owns seven (31st-overall).
Cleveland and Cincinnati both have eight picks, with the Browns starting at No. 6 and the Bengals at No. 4.